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How Marketers Are Using Social Media to Grow Their Businesses [2014 Industry Report]

Whether you are just getting started in social media or are experienced in growing your company’s social presence, you probably have questions about best practices, measurements, platform popularity, and the future of social media marketing. Luckily, the world’s largest online social media magazine has the answers to those questions and many more.  Last week the Social Media Examiner published their 6th annual social media marketing industry report about how marketers are using social media to grow and promote their businesses.

social media marketing industry report 2014For the 2014 report, they interviewed over 2,800 marketers to determine:

  • The top 5 social media questions marketers want answered
  • The time commitment
  • The benefits of social media marketing
  • Commonly used social media services
  • Social media sites people want to learn more out
  • How B2B vs. B2C companies use social media
  • Paid social media
  • Role of content in social media marketing
  • Outsourcing of social media management

Questions from Marketers

With social media continuing to grow and evolve, both new and experienced marketers continue to look for answers to their social media questions. The top five questions that marketers currently have about social media are:

  1. What social tactics are most effective?
  2. What are the best ways to engage my audience on social media?
  3. How do I measure the return on my social media marketing?
  4. What are the best social media management tools?
  5. How do I find my target audience with social media?

Measuring Social Media Activity

One of the most interesting findings of the report was the percentage of marketers that measure ROI or analyze  their social media activities. Compared to the 2013 report, their was only a slight increase in the number of marketers that reported being able to measure ROI of their social media efforts. In this year’s report, only 37% of marketers reported measuring social activities and only 26% reported being able to measure ROI compared to the 68% that reported regularly analyzing their social media activities.

For tips on management, measuring, and calculating ROI of your social media efforts check out: Social Media Analytics and ROI tracking

Is Facebook still King?

Right now, 43% of marketers feel like their Facebook efforts are working. While this is an increase from the 37% reported in 2013, the majority of marketers reported  not knowing or unsure if their Facebook efforts were working. In particular, B2C and large businesses were more likely to report that their Facebook marketing efforts were effective. social media trends 2014While Facebook is still the most commonly used platform for marketers, the effectiveness of Facebook marketing efforts is often dependent on the size of the company and whether it is B2B verses B2B. Right now the top seven most commonly used platforms by marketers are:

  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter
  3. LinkedIn
  4. YouTube
  5. Blogging
  6. Google+
  7. Pinterest

It was found that the popularity of each platform is related to a marketer’s experience. Marketers with less than a year of experience reported Facebook as their most commonly used platform. But, as a marketer’s experience increases Twitter becomes a more prominent part of their social media activities and there is a greater focus on content creation (i.e. YouTube and blogging).
Of all the social media platforms, marketers reported that moving forward they plan on increasing their use of the following platforms (in this order):

  1. Blogging
  2. YouTube
  3. Twitter
  4. LinkedIn
  5. Facebook

In addition, they found that 85% of marketers have no plans of utilizing Snapchat moving forward.

Social Media Time Commitment

How much time should I spend managing social media marketing efforts each week? This is a question that many marketers deal with, especially those whose time is split integrating traditional and digital marketing. This year’s industry report found that the weekly time commitment for social media marketing is impacted by a marketer’s experience, business size, and a marketer’s age. Overall, 64% of marketers reported using social media for 6 hours or more a week and 37% use social media 11 hours or more. A very interesting find was that the years of experience a marketer has is directly related to their weekly time commitment. Marketers with less than 1 year of experience commit less than 5 hours a week to social media, while marketers with more than 2 years of experience spend more than 6 hours a week on social.  There is also a direct relationship with time commitment and a marketer’s age. Marketers under the age of 40 spend more time on social media compared to marketers over 40.

Benefits of Social Media Marketing

benefits of social media marketing 2014

In this year’s report, the Social Media Examiner reported increased benefits across all categories. In particular, marketers who committed at least 6 hours per week to social media activities saw the following benefits from their efforts:

  • 50% improved sales
  • 95% increased exposure for their business
  • 50% built new partnerships
  • 66% increased lead generation
  • 50% reduced marketing expenses
  • 60% reported a rise in search rankings
  • 84% increased site traffic
  • 74% gained marketing insight
  • 78% developed a loyal fan base

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